7 Tips for Substitute Teachers

Sure, you have your teaching certificate, you’ve done student teaching, and you’ve secured a job as a substitute teacher for your local district. That’s great! Hard work paid off. 

That being said, there are some differences between a substitute and a full-time teacher. Plus, there’s a bit of a learning curve in each classroom, grade, and individual school. So, whether you’re a new sub or you’ve been around the district a time or two, we’re here today to talk tips for substitute teachers. From the simple tips to the more niche, we’re going to try and ease your mind the next time you’re walking into a new substitute job. 

Students Love Subs

While they love their teachers, they love the “day off” type of vibe that a substitute brings, even if they still have to do actual classwork or prepare for an exam. However, it’s important to balance being a “cool sub” with being a substitute teacher because students often think of them differently than their regular teacher (for better or worse). It’s always nice when a school district or location has the same rotating subs because they tend to build interpersonal relationships with students, staff, and other faculty. This can make sub days operate more smoothly rather than bringing in a sub nobody has ever met before. Word of mouth goes a long way, after all!

7 Quick Tips for Substitute Teachers 

1. Aim to be there early

This eliminates any stress associated with running late or being underprepared. You have time to get your wits about you, meet surrounding teachers, double-check the lesson plan, and so forth.

2. Focus on being understanding, patient, and flexible

This can help the students become comfortable with your presence, which is good for you and the school. Unfortunately, a sub can be disrupting to certain students with specific learning styles and routines, so it’s important to be patient, focus on listening first, and just go with the flow.

3. Don’t be afraid to lean on other teachers

Those in the classrooms around you may be familiar with specific student behavior and reputations, which can help you navigate the classroom and school better.

4. Establish authority and demand respect

This will ensure that you have control of the classroom rather than the classroom or students having control over you, the sub. You can do this by introducing yourself and your expectations, allowing time for clarifying questions, and primarily enforcing the lesson plan with a bit of wiggle room since you’re the “irregular” teacher. Be firm in your teaching methods, styles, and classroom procedures, but don’t forget to be flexible where you can. 

5. Have an “essentials” grab bag

This can include paper, pencils, a calculator, chargers, your planner, bandaids, feminine hygiene products, snacks, a whistle (a go-to playground attention grabber), backup activities, a deck of cards or age-appropriate activity, a book of riddles (perfect classroom opener or closer depending on time), hand sanitizer, emergency lesson plans, sunscreen, whiteboard markers, stickers, personal discipline plans, teaching journal for notes, incentive charts or rewards, comfortable shoes (just in case you have to be on your feet more than expected), subject-specific documentaries or educational videos, and so forth. 

6. Be prepared and aware of special needs students 

To keep it simple, just be vigilant about ensuring additional accommodations are allowed and in place. 

7. Leave a note for the teacher

Recount the day, note any absences, how the lesson plan went, how the students behaved, compliments, complaints, etc. – basically, anything the teacher might want to know for when they return. 

Focus on What’s Important: the Students

The most important tip for substitute teachers is to remember why you’re there and who you’re there for. We don’t want to assume, but generally, teachers of all kinds choose the profession for the students. Maybe you connected with a certain teacher or teaching style growing up, or maybe you wanted to help students, like yourself, learn in a comfortable classroom setting. Whether you always wanted to be a substitute, or it’s just how the cards played out, your role is imperative to the students you teach. 

1st Place Provides Spiritwear for Students, Staff, and Substitutes 

example of spiritwear from 1st Place featuring Dekalb Of The Arts in Atlanta, GA

Whether you frequent an individual school or the same district time and time again, we’ve made it our mission to provide you with all your spiritwear needs for all schools across the nation. Spiritwear is the perfect way to show your support and dedication to the classroom and school of the day. Even if the students don’t say so, they’ll notice your gear. 

Did you appreciate these quick tips for substitute teachers? We hope so. Stick around for more content like this from our team!

Shop 1st Place Spiritwear for Your School(s)!


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